Swimming in a clean ocean

Over a long weekend in October, I returned to the Mid North Coast and the Manning Valley for another round of field recordings and story gathering for my Regional Futures project, Vaticinor. Works are now in development for this project, in preparation for a small group exhibition at the Manning Regional Arts Gallery in March 2023. The topic we’re exploring through our work is What does the future hold for the regions in a post-carbon world?

Based at Wingham, just inland of Taree, I spent three and a half days exploring between Manning Point on the coast and Wingham township, the village of Tinonee and the hilly locality of Dollys Flat further inland. I sampled sound at several sites using hydrophones, multi-channel audio recorders, a shotgun mic, binaural mics and the geofón, including the Manning River at Manning Point and Taree, the lowland subtropical rainforest of Wingham Brush beside the river in Wingham, and cleared dairy flats surrounded by hilly, dry sclerophyll forests. Talk of a renewables future here seems to revolve around community hubs or micro-grids and going off grid—such a contrast to the large-scale solar and wind farms of the Central West.

Efforts to gather stories became difficult with people’s movements over a long weekend, but I did have a couple of conversations early in my stay with Wingham Museum volunteer, Margaret Clark, who was very generous with her time and thoughts about the future.

“Man is perhaps the most destructive of the beasts on the planet. We need to learn from our past to be able to plan for our future.”

Wrapping up this short stay in the area, was a morning chat with spectacular views from the heights of ceramicist, Steve Williams’ mountain block at Dollys Flat, just outside Wingham. While he touched on the growing negativity he feels about the world today, he also talked about trying to find balance in the way he lives.

“The life I want to live is joyful and creative, and full of energy. But it’s about balance, where it’s not everything in my life—it’s a small important part. But yeah, I want to swim in a clean ocean.”

These recorded audio stories will join the other 10 stories I’ve currently gathered, and several others yet to do before March 2023. They will inform the sonic narratives I’m weaving and the writings I’m moulding from my observations, reading and thinking, as well as provide ideas for living, understanding, and being in the world at this time—perhaps even provoking conversations that will carry the work of this project beyond the walls of the gallery and the time constructs of the exhibition.

🔊 SONIC BYTE: WINGHAM BRUSH BOARDWALK

Sonic Byte: Wingham Brush Boardwalk, 3 October 2022 (hear about the giant fig trees, listen to the birds and grey-headed flying foxes, descriptions of the recent flood damage on the Manning River, and thoughts about exploring regional futures as an artist—recorded on a mobile phone)

From Manning Point to Wingham Brush Nature Reserve, to the hills of Dollys Flat and Taree on the Manning River—field recording sites include the river at its mouth, lowland subtropical rainforest cleared dairy and beef cattle country, and the urban riverine environs of Wingham, Taree and surrounds.

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